Travel insurance can kill a travel budget for anyone. We feel the pinch especially hard, since we’re buying travel insurance for a family of four.
When I searched high and low for travel insurance comparisons and reviews for our upcoming trip, I found absolutely nothing (other then the awesome Kanetix (now called RATESDOTCA that would help me compare prices and insurance. So I had to do hours of legwork to get the best prices and policies, and I’ve shared them in this review.
Because COVID-19 has sent travel insurance prices into flux, we’re finding that prices we check in 2021 are varying significantly from 2019, and even from 2020. We expect this price fluctuation to continue into 2022, so getting several quotes of your own is likely the best way to get the best price.
For six months of travel, for a family of four, we got quotes ranging from $418.51 to a whopping $2,461.92 for worldwide travel medical insurance, including the USA.
Prices and policies can change almost overnight, so do your own research. This travel insurance review should give a great starting point, though. All prices are in Canadian dollars, although some of the companies (especially World Nomads) will cover people all around the world.
A quick explanation before I name names and point fingers in the review. Travel insurance almost always means medical travel insurance, which includes set amount of coverage (usually one to five million dollars per person for travel accidents and illness). Many travel insurance packages include coverage for baggage, trip cancellation, trip interruption and even emergency dental. Only buy what you need, and you’ll save a lot of money.
Tip! Read the terms and conditions of policy wording and description of coverage to decide if the policy you choose is right for you. Insurance policy wordings are subject to change at any time, without prior notice.
World Nomads (Updated 2021!)
World Nomads travel insurance, available through Lonely Planet, was one of the cheapest policies we found, that also happens to include a lot of extras like trip cancellation and coverage for sports.
World Nomads travel insurance is underwritten by Travel Guard AIG Insurance Company of Canada.
$1,804.88 for six months, for a family of four, for the Standard Plan. There’s also an Explorer plan, with higher limits, for 2,234.54 CAD. All the information below was for our quote for the Standard Plan.
$5 million travel medical insurance.
World-wide, including USA.
Extensions are allowed during a trip, even if you’re not in your country of residence.
You can buy this insurance after you’ve started you trip, even if you’re not in your country of residence. This is a huge bonus, especially if you’ve somehow forgotten to get insurance before you leave.
Valid provincial health insurance required for the entire duration of our trip.
No coverage for anyone over age 65.
Not available to Quebec residents.
Refund available within a 10 days, after the issue of a Confirmation Letter and of the policy wording, if the trip hasn’t started, no claim has been made.
Trip Cancellation: $2,500 per insured.
Trip Interruption: $2,500 per insured.
$1,000 baggage and personal effects
$1,000 sporting equipment coverage
World Nomads offers baggage and personal effects insurance, and also covers cameras and computers, which is very rare (most policies exclude cell phones, computers, and most electronics). Policy covers prescription eyeglasses. However, there are exclusions to the coverage, for example if your belongings are left unattended in public place or if unattended in car.
They cover adventure activities like snorkeling or scuba diving.
World Nomads offers 24 Hour World Wide Emergency Assistance.
You may extend your policy while on your trip, but NOT if your policy has expired, if you have a finalized Luggage and Personal Effects claim of CAD $2,500 or more. You can extend your cover for up to a maximum trip length of 365 days provided you have obtained an extension of your provincial health insurance plan.
World Nomads does offer some COVID-19 coverage. Here’s the COVID-19 blurb from their website on June 2021. “If you contract COVID-19 prior to departure, you may be covered for trip cancellation, if you have a confirmed and documented diagnosis at the time of departure due to COVID-19. If you contract COVID- 19 while on a covered trip, you may be covered for medical expenses and trip interruption/curtailment benefits if you have a confirmed and documented diagnosis. Please note that you could be excluded from medical expenses coverage if you travel despite an advisory against travel to your destination.”
2021 update: Tugo now offers COVID-19 travel insurance coverage included as a benefit under their emergency medical coverage, but ONLY if you’re fully or partially vaccinated, or if you’re not eligible for a vaccine, due to age.
If you haven’t been vaccinated, for any reason other than your age, then the COVID-19 insurance ISN’T included as a benefit under their emergency medical insurance for you. If you fall into this category, you’ll need to buy COVID-19 Insurance, Unvaccinated as an add-on to your TuGo Emergency Medical Insurance Worldwide or Excluding USA plans.
There’s a fairly extensive list of eligibility requirements, and there’s an additional cost. To get the COVID-19 insurance, you need to also have a worldwide or worldwide excluding USA TuGo emergency medical policy in place for the full duration of the COVID-19 Insurance coverage.
Safety Wing is a (relative) new comer to the travel insurance space.
SafetyWing insurance specializes in expat travel medical insurance that we think is a great option for longer term travelers as well.
There’s one huge catch for Safety Wing insurance, though, and it’s a big one. SafetyWing won’t sell Canadians travel insurance while you’re physically located in Canada. You can cross the border in any way and buy insurance immediately when you have left Canada.
SafetyWing Insurance is available to anyone from any home country in the world (unless your home country is Iran, North Korea or Cuba, or if you have Cuba as your citizenship).
The base price for insurance is $40 for 4 weeks of coverage, not including coverage in the USA.
A quote for one person for 6 months was 1309.80. However, since they cover COVID-19, we’ve included them in this list, since options for travel insurance that cover COVID are still pretty limited.
For a family of four, for insurance for six months to Mexico and the USA, the quote was a whopping 3,071.00. Wow.
Nomad Insurance covers COVID-19 for new policies. Coverage works the same as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date, and does not fall under any other policy exclusion or limitation.
Tip: if you’re an existing customer, you can update to a new policy to get the COVID-19 insurance. To activate the new policy, existing customers need to cancel their current coverage (you will be refunded for the remaining policy), sign in and complete payment for the new plan.
Testing for COVID-19 is only be covered if deemed medically necessary by a physician. The antibody test is not covered, as it is not medically necessary.
Update! As of April 15th 2021, Nomad Insurance covers quarantine of $50/day for up to 10 days (once within a 364-day period). The quarantine coverage requires that you’re covered by Nomad Insurance for a minimum of 28 days and you are outside your home country. Your quarantine must be mandated by a physician or governmental authority, because you have either tested positive for COVID-19 or you are symptomatic and waiting for your test results.
We signed up with TD Meloche Monnex: Wide Horizons Solution on our last six month trip though Costa Rica, Mexico, Florida and Texas. Although we didn’t have to make a claim, their customer service was extremely professional and patient when answering all of my questions about the quote.
$947.80 for six months, for a family of four. Since we have home insurance with Meloche, we get a good discount on the premium.
This is a great deal, as it includes a 60 day multi-trip plan that will let us take unlimited trips (of up to 60 days) anywhere in the world for $181.00/year per year. The additional four months of top up coverage cost us $766.80 (for a total of $947.80).
If we didn’t have home, tenants’ insurance, or auto insurance with Meloche , the cost for our initial 60 day multi-trip plan would be higher.
You’ll need to call Meloche to buy your policy. Meloche’s number is 1-866-566-1464.
$5 million emergency medical insurance, per person.
$100 deductible (most deductibles with other companies are 0). It was worth the higher deductible, given that the premium is so low. You can also choose a $250, $500 or $1,000 deductible.
Free international assistance, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Full refund available anytime during our trip, less a $20 fee.
Extensions are available while on our trip, but if there’s a claim on file, the extension must be verified by risk manager. You must also have valid provincial health coverage.
World-wide, including USA, but excludes countries with Government of Alberta or Canada travel warnings.
Trip cancellation up to $2,500 per person, maximum $5,000 per family for each annual period of coverage.
Trip interruption up to $5,000 per person, per covered trip.
No baggage or personal effects insurance.
If we purchase additional tickets/flights after leaving on trip, these are not eligible for trip cancellation/baggage insurance.
Many adventure activities are covered. There were some exceptions, including ultralight flights and paid sports activities, I believe, but they didn’t apply to us.
Like all the other policies we looked at, we were required to have valid provincial health insurance for the entire duration of our trip.
Merit Travelcuts Worldwide Travel Insurance
We used travelcuts Globetrotter insurance for our last trips to Asia and the Philippines. We ended up claiming a few days in a hospital in Thailand, and travelcuts was great to us.
If we’d been a single traveller on this trip, then travelcuts would probably have been our first choice for insurance. With a whopping 547 days for a maximum policy length, travelcuts is a well worth looking at if you’re planning a longer trip.
Anyone over 50 years old cannot get this policy.
travelcuts has several plans, but we were interested only in the Emergency Medical Plan D. This plan does not include trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance.
$1,641.60 for six months, for a family of four. Like pretty much all of the other companies, our quote has increased quite a bit from when I first got a quote in 2012, when the quote was $916.00.
1 million emergency medical insurance per person.
You must have valid government health insurance plan for the entire duration of your trip.
travelcuts insurance only covers travellers under age 50, and over 15 days old.
You may be able to get an extension on your trip, but you must call travelcuts to apply for the extension, and have a provincial health plan is in effect for the full length of your travel period.
You may get a full refund if you cancel within 10 days of buying your policy, or if you can prove your trip was cancelled before you leave on your trip. See your specific policy for details.
Costs and benefits may be different for residents of Quebec.
travelcuts worldwide insurance was formerly known as Travel CUTS Bon Voyage insurance.
Always check your individual policy – coverage and limits can change without notice.
itravel2000 is one of my favorite sites to search for cheap all-inclusive last minute getaways and hotel rooms, so I thought I’d check out their travel insurance. Wow. Pretty darn expensive, and the last quote I got was back before 2018.
A gulp-inducing $3,075.00 for six months for an all inclusive plan for family of four, including trip cancellation and interruption.
$1,573.20 for a global under age 60 plan, with $5 million in emergency medical benefits only, with no trip cancellation or interruption.
BMO travel insurance is one of Canada’s biggest names in travel insurance, so I thought I’d try them out.
$1,532.18 for six months insurance for a family of four.
$5,000,000 medical liability.
A refund is available 10 days after purchase, but not after leaving on a trip, and you need to meet other conditions.
Coverage can be extended after leaving, but there cannot be an open claim. You can extend for a total of 183 days (212 days if you reside in BritishColumbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia or Ontario).
There’s Travel Emergency Medical Insurance for eligible persons under age 65 (up to 25 consecutive days) and for eligible persons age 65 and older (up to 10 consecutive days).
What we think is cool about this card is that it’s one of the few Canadian credit cards that don’t charge a foreign transaction fee. It also has a travel rewards program, with Scotia Rewards points – right now there’s a signup bonus of 30,000 Scotia Rewards points (plus an additional 10,000 available if you spend at least $40,000 in everyday eligible purchases annually). That’s a total of 40,000 bonus points!
Annual fee: $139.00
Up to $1 million in emergency medical travel insurance
Up to $2,500 trip cancellation/interruption
Flight delay, delayed and lost baggage, travel accident, and rental car collision loss/damage insurance.
RATESDOTCA (formerly Kanetix) is on online insurance quote consolidator. I’m a big fan, as I like that it lets me compare a number of travel insurance companies side by side, and they usually seem like a fairly good deal to me. They do all sorts of insurance, including home, auto, and tenant’s insurance.
TuGo for $937.80 six months for a family of four for $2 million in emergency medical insurance and no trip cancellation or interruption insurance, with a $300 deductible. A zero deductible raised that to $1,062.80.
Ingle International for $1,061.42 for six months for our family of four for $10 million in emergency medical insurance and no trip cancellation or interruption insurance, with a $250 deductible.
World Escapade $1,069.20 for six months for a family of four for $5 million in emergency medical insurance and no trip cancellation or interruption insurance, with a $250 deductible.
Allianz for $1,155.60 for six months for a family of four for with $10 million in emergency medical insurance and no trip cancellation or interruption insurance, and a $250 deductible.
GMS for $1,580.40 for six months for our family of four with $5 million in emergency medical insurance and no trip cancellation or interruption insurance, and a $250 deductible.
For trips of 60 days or less, you may already have coverage through a credit card with medical travel insurance perks. These often offer trip cancellation and interruption, along with baggage insurance. For Canada travel insurance, the cards we looked at were Scotiabank and BMO.
Note: If you decide to use only your credit cards built in travel insurance, make sure that you’re covered for the duration of your trip (you can often extend coverage for an additional fee) and that you qualify since some cards that include travel insurance have specific riders that might not cover you if you fall outside of their policies parameters.
Baggage coverage and personal effects coverage
Baggage coverage insures your bags while in transit (in airplanes, though this may extend to buses and taxis).
Personal effects coverage covers your belongings anywhere, on any portion of your trip. This sounds nice in theory, but I found that most policies had some serious exclusions. They would only cover losses with a police report (makes sense, but a police report can be pretty damn hard to get in a lot of countries). On top of that, most policies would not insure belongings that were unattended. That means that if your wallet is stolen from your beach chair while you’re body surfing, you’re out of luck. No coverage.
Even more important, most policies wouldn’t cover loss or theft of computers, cameras, or cell phones, or jewelry. Seriously. The only expensive things that most people travel with aren’t covered.
Here’s a little trick, though. If you have insurance on your home or tenant’s insurance, then your belongings might be covered on your trip. Usually there’s a limit (around 10% of the total coverage on your original policy), and your deductible applies to any claims while travelling.
World Nomads had pretty good coverage for personal effects, including computers and camera equipment.
Trip cancellation and interruption generally only cover the portion of your trip that you buy before you leave. Not especially useful for us, since we’re only buying a one-way ticket to Mexico before we leave, and the rest of our tickets will be bought once out of Canada. Not having a set itinerary means that we’ll buy onward legs (by plane, train, car, taxi, water taxi, ferry, cruise liner, or bus) as we need them. I couldn’t find a single travel insurance policy that would cover purchase of additional legs once we left home. Trust me, I tried. And tried.
A lot of Canada travel insurance reviews don’t mention this, but it’s important: If you’re gone for more than six months, ensure you get a written extension from your provincial health care plan (this applies only to Canadians).
Checklist for travel insurance:
What is the amount of liability you cover?
Is trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance covered?
Is there a refund available for unused amount?
What is the deductible?
Do you offer a medical service assist, e.g., can you help me find a doctor or hospital?
Is the policy good worldwide, including the USA?
Can I top up my insurance once I’ve left on my trip?
Can I buy my initial insurance after I’ve left on my trip?
Check out our new website!
We’ve had so many great responses to this article that we realized that other travellers were having the exact same problem we had: There are no good websites that do a good job of reviewing and comparing Canadian travel insurance.